The Scottish Mail on Sunday
Living in the past is the future
THERE’S something deliciously Back To The Future about Drumsheugh Gardens, an elegant blonde sandstone terrace where properties are being returned to residential use nearly 50 years after being converted into office suites. Designed by notable Kirkcaldy-born architect John Lessels in 1877 they were built as townhouses, created to accommodate people in a domestic, rather than commercial, setting.
But the 1960s set convention on its head in many ways, not least the move toward converting some of Edinburgh’s finer residential West End properties into offices and hotels.
Drumsheugh Gardens was no different and numbers 25 to 27 became the headquarters for the Law Society Of Scotland.
Work is now under way to right a wrong, transforming the B-listed property back into 17 luxury apartments.
The lawyers have found a modern office block elsewhere in the city, allowing Sundial Properties to return this gorgeous slice of Drumsheugh Gardens to the kind of place where people would want to live.
It’s a growing trend picked up by urban expert Dr Iain Gordon Brown, past president of the Old Edinburgh Club.
He said: ‘In Drumsheugh Gardens, you are returning former residential properties to their original use.
‘And the trend in Edinburgh seems to me now to be the conversion of these buildings into highly attractive residential use.
‘That can’t be anything but a good thing. It is an extremely liveable and walkable city.
‘And that, I think, is one of the distinguishing features that makes Edinburgh such an attractive place to be.’
In the past week alone, four of the 17 Sundial properties have been snapped up, two by wealthy US investors, and it’s not hard to see the attraction.
The specification is very high end. Buyers get to inherit the hand-built Victorian craftsmanship that has been retained over the years – some of the most intricate cornicing you’ll see in Scotland, original fireplaces, the odd cupola and in one apartment, an original Victorian billiard room.
Catriona Aitchison, a director of Sundial Properties, said: ‘We were delighted to discover the Law Society had boxed in a lot of the original features to preserve them.
‘We discovered Number 25 had been built for a shipping magnate, who must have specified wonderful timber to be used.
‘All the detailing on the plasterwork features ropes and chains and the detailing around the cupola is magnificent.’
The property developers appreciate that as well as original features, owners are prepared to put up with a bit of modernism, particularly in the kitchen.
For that reason, each individually designed cooking area has been shipped in from Italy and paired with Miele appliances.
Kitchens have Quooker taps, which deliver instant boiling water, and Corian worktops, with a concealed sink below to offer more workspace.
A nod to tradition can be detected in the installation of dado panelling in the bathroom and, for peace of mind, the front door has secure entry and there is a lift to the upper apartments.
Ms Aitchison said: ‘There is a big downsizing demand in Edinburgh and a growing international market as well. I tell prospective buyers they need never move again because this building caters for their every need.
‘They are walking into a property where all the major services have been renewed – the roof, electrics, flooring and plumbing. We are selling more than a home, we are selling a lifestyle.’
Properties from £395,000-£1.3 million. Contact Catriona Aitchison on 0131 220 9130 or email catriona@sundialproperties. co.uk.